Legal action over blocked watercourse

As flooding remains a perennial problem in Debe, a couple is threatening legal action against a meat and produce company for blocking a watercourse which they said has led to water gushing into their property.

Even as residents of the SS Erin Road complained about the construction by Pawan Wholesalers Ltd, chairman of the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation, Dr Allen Sammy said he could not comment that the issue as the Corporation has a matter pertaining to the legality of the structure in court.

In a pre-action protocol letter issued to the company’s owner, Ricky Sookdeo, retired public servants Chandradath and Karen Singh are claiming declaratory and or inductive relief as well as damages for nuisance.

Through their attorney’s Dipnarine Rampersad and Company, the Singhs said they suffer nuisance, including constant flooding as a result of the impeded drain, foul-smelling odor from waste products, rotten dry goods as well as the increase in vermin, including rats and stray animals, which come onto their property from the company located along the SS Erin Road. They are alleging that the company blocked and encroached on the drain under the purview of the PDRC which channels water from the main road and surrounding area into a nearby river.

The drain, which was a natural watercourse, was converted into a box drain around 1990 by the Unemployment Relief Programme. The letter alleges that on November 10, 2015, the company constructed a driveway using steel sheets over the corporation’s drain. It is alleged that the company later extended its stockroom over the drain and enclosed it with an iron frame and galvanize sheet without permission.

Residents told Guardian Media yesterday that the blocking of the watercourse was responsible for flooding in their community. The drains on both sides of the SS Erin Road were filled with almost a foot a slush and silt. Sammy said that the drains in the region are cleaned often, but some property owners have built on the drainage reserves, making inaccessible for workers. That was true in some cases, but residents also showed open areas and culverts that were blocked. While viewing the construction, one of Sookdeo’s relatives began to scold Chandradath for complaining, saying that he should mind his business.

Sookdeo said that he responded to the pre-action protocol letter in which he denied the Singhs’ claims. He said that the drain was passing through his property. However, he denied that they were causing the drain to be clogged, saying that every week he sends someone to clean it. He said that the only time the area was flooded was in 2017, due to Tropical Storm Bret. He said that the flood came from the other side of the SS Erin Road, where there was a clogged culvert.

Source: www.guardian.co.tt (Kevon Felmine)

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